Azur Air, Swiss and Air France resume flights to Sri Lanka
Three leading airlines of Russia, Switzerland and France have resumed their flights from Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake in Colombo suburbs as the island nation is gearing up to be part of the highly anticipated FIFA World Cup.
Sri Lanka yesterday officially launched FIFA Fan Zone 2022. FIFA Fan Zone 2022 is being set up in Negombo, Lewis Lane, where all hotels, restaurants and boutiques are currently receiving a facelift to give Qatar’s FIFA World Cup vibe.
Sri Lanka’s fan zone for the world cup spectators is endorsed by the FIFA management, the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau (SLCB) said.
In the eve of this event ,Russia’s largest charter airline — Azur Air and the flag carrier of France -Air France, will resume flights to Sri Lanka starting from today , according to Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry.
Azur Air will commence flights to Sri Lanka from today (November 03) while Air France is scheduled to resume flights from Friday (November 04).
It is scheduled to operate four flights per week initially with plans to operate additional flights from several cities depending on the demand.
Last month, the Russian flag carrier, Aeroflot also resumed flight operations to Sri Lanka.Aeroflot resumed flights after it suspended operations in June.
Meanwhile in a twitter message, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando announced that Switzerland’s national airline, Swiss International Air Lines, is now starting operations in Sri Lanka once again with weekly flights starting from November 10 to May2023.
He said this will further strengthen the European arrivals for the season. Russian airlines have not been flying to Sri Lanka since early June, when an A330-300 operated by Aeroflot was briefly detained due to a dispute with lessor AerCap‘s special purpose vehicle Celestial Aviation Trading Limited.
Even though the court quickly released the aircraft and the Sri Lankan government guaranteed that no further seizures would be made in the country, Russian airlines had been reluctant to return to the island.
However, Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot last month resumed flights between Moscow and Colombo after a lapse of 4 months.
Meanwhile Minister Fernando disclosed recently that French flag carrier Air France and Netherlands flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will resume flights to Colombo from tomorrow, and the said airlines will operate four flights a week to Sri Lanka.
The increase in the number of flights operating to Colombo comes at a time when the government is hoping to attract more tourists from Europe during winter months.
Tourism Minister Fernando who has been staging road shows and events in recent weeks to encourage more people to visit Sri Lanka is expected to leave for Europe.
The Minister is of the view that Sri Lanka can attract more tourists due to the stable situation in Sri Lanka at present.
He is also hoping to open doors to football fans who will be traveling to Qatar for next month’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has announced that more than 42,000 tourists arrived in Sri Lanka in October. Accordingly, a total of 568,000 tourists have entered Sri Lanka thus far this year.
The SLTDA said, Sri Lanka which vastly depends on tourism as one of the main foreign exchange-generating avenues, hopes to attract at least one million tourists by the end of 2022.
The SLTDA said if the expected number of tourists arrives in the island, the government will generate revenue of USD 1.8 billion through the tourism sector.